The Ad Hoc Committee on Black People Experiencing Homelessness issued a report recently calling for the elimination of racial disparities and systemic racism affecting Black people — individuals and families — experiencing homelessness across Los Angeles County.
The persistent overrepresentation of Black people within the population experiencing homelessness is a troubling reality across the United States, and Los Angeles is no exception. According to trends and the 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, Black people comprise 40 percent of the homeless population, though Black people make up nine percent of county residents. In recognition of the urgent need to dedicate focused attention to better understand and address this critical issue, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) called for creation of an Ad Hoc Committee on Black People Experiencing Homelessness.
The 26-member committee, first of its kind, convened in April 2018. The committee conducted several meetings in the field, soliciting testimony from Black people who had or are experiencing homelessness, as well as a diverse group of service providers and other community members.
The report can be accessed here: https://www.lahsa.org/documents?id=2823-report-and-recommendations-of-the-ad-hoc-committee-on-black-people-experiencing-homelessness.
The report summarizes key insights illuminated by this committee’s work as well as the committee’s recommendations for necessary actions to advance equity and eliminate racial disparities impacting Black people experiencing homelessness across Los Angeles County.
A theme that cut across the committee’s work was that racism has contributed to, and remains intertwined with, homelessness. Ending homelessness will require a collective commitment to dismantling racism and addressing racial disparities, and sustained support from funders, policymakers, mainstream systems of care, service providers, and community partners.
“In our intent to tackle homelessness across Los Angeles County, we need to address the longstanding issues that result in Black people persistently making up a disproportionate share of the population experiencing homelessness,” said Jacqueline Waggoner, committee chair. “We urge elected officials, public agencies, and service providers to move swiftly to address the systemic obstacles that have resulted in this longstanding crisis in our communities.”
“The committee heard presentations from experts that included an extraordinary amount of research, both in terms of data analysis and gathering firsthand accounts,” said Kelli Bernard, committee vice chair. “Based upon these learnings, the committee is lifting up recommendations to remove racial barriers to housing and services, while also creating a foundation on which to monitor progress.”
In addition to citing contributing factors, the 115-page report offers nearly 70 recommendations, which include advancing racially-equitable policies, programs, and funding across institutions. These recommendations are a first step to improve cultural competency and care in the homeless delivery system.
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority is a joint powers authority of the city and county of Los Angeles, created in 1993 to address the problems of homelessness in Los Angeles County. LAHSA is the lead agency in the HUD-funded Los Angeles Continuum of Care, and coordinates and manages more than $300 million annually in federal, state, county and city funds for programs providing shelter, housing and services to homeless persons. For more information visit www.lahsa.org.